Culture as a Barrier Culture defines the way people think, see, hear, behave and interpret the world. It becomes a barrier to development when people value traditionalism, Ignorance and cultural rules over Innovations. “Developers’ talk and write about the traditional way of life, the traditional relationship between husband and wife, traditional skill, the traditional three stone fires and the traditional farming practices. ” (Emma Crew and Elizabeth Harrison 16). This Is seen as traditionalism by developers.
Local people In Africa and Asia are seen as slow to adopt new technology partly because of cultural arises derived from ignorance and created by cultural rules. This is shown in a project where traditional ovens were replaced by new ovens without the awareness of how to use the ovens economically. (Singer 1991 : 7). The barriers created by cultural rules are seen as much more immovable. A frequently cited example comes from Malawi where apparently belief In witchcraft is so strong that small-scale farmers, including fish farmers, dare not produce more than their peers for fear of being bewitched. ACCLAIM/GET 1991). “The distinction between tradition and modernity fulfills two functions. It is a simplifying device for those who identify homeless with mainly technical issues and require a straightforward explanation of failure. It is also potentially a tool for overcoming the tricky problem of choosing which tatters to work with. ” The authors argued that cultural barriers may not actually be a barriers. In my personal experience In Mauritania I have seen that people value the traditional way more than Innovations. Why are American’s top pundits wrong ?
Americans have been blessed economically allowing them to become one of the leading countries in development and cutting edge technologies that make Americans think that they are better prepared to answer the worlds problems thou considering some crucial factors that have a tremendous impact in the outcome of the solution of those problems. Samuel Huntington, a Harvard professor and well-known political scientist, wrote The Clash of Civilizations, causing debate in the anthropological world. In his book. Huntington identifies seven civilizations, with Africa being “possibly a civilization”.
He states that conflicts will arise where these civilizations meet. Catherine Baseman and Hugh Gustafson argue that Huntington is wrong in 7 areas. 1. Basic definitions. 2. Stereotyping cultures. 3. Ignoring change. 4. Denying multiculturalism. . Maligning Islam. 6. Phony scientific methods. 7. The west as the best. Huntington biggest mistake was that he didn’t recognize what he didn’t know. The theories that he put in his book were accepted as truth by the public because of his position at a respected university.
We live in an international world today so it is very important tort us to understand culture to be able to make a bigger Impact in development work. The traditions of the people contribute to the success or to the failure of the projects that we do. If we look down on the people and we see ourselves as superior and as someone that knows everything because we have a doctoral degree and the best technology available we could actually do more harm and will delay the development of the communities that we are trying to help.